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Curiosity's wheel tracks on Mars  (Source:
Curiosity is making its way toward Glenelg, a 1,300 foot drive from Curiosity's landing site

NASA rover Curiosity passed a series of testing since landing on the Red Planet, and has finally left its landing site to explore its Martian surroundings.

Curiosity made two simple maneuvers recently to test its driving capabilities. After successful completion, Curiosity was sent on its way to its first official destination on Mars for exploration. It traveled 52 feet, which marked its longest drive from its landing site (Bradbury Landing) yet.

Curiosity is making its way toward Glenelg, a 1,300 foot drive from Curiosity's landing site. Glenelg is an ideal spot for investigation of whether Mars has the ingredients to produce life because the area has three different types of terrain in one spot.

It'll take Curiosity a few weeks to get to Glenelg because it's making a few stops along the way. It will test its various instruments, such as its robotic arm, during these stops to make sure everything is in working order.

Once reaching Glenelg, Curiosity will spend a longer amount of time there for exploration.

"This drive really begins our journey toward the first major driving destination, Glenelg, and it's nice to see some Martian soil on our wheels," said Arthur Amador, mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The drive went beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it."

Curiosity, a $2.5 billion project, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars August 6, 2012 at 1:32 a.m. It was a tricky landing procedure, but it was a success and Curiosity's testing has also turned out well so far. In fact, the rover recently zapped its first rock on Mars using its laser.

Source: MSNBC

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RE: Another giant leap for mankind.
By Solandri on 9/3/2012 6:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
Much of the technology used for Curiosity - including RTGs, cameras, lasers, antennas, communications encoding schemes, radiation-hardened circuitry, multi-wheeled transportation, high speed parachutes, and rockets for launching and landing - came from the U.S. defense budget.

The U.S. DoD is the ultimate early adopter - paying billions of dollars to fund the early development of technology you and I will take for granted decades later. True we could've funneled that money through a non-military agency instead. But non-military applications don't value minute advances in technology the way the military does. Like it or not, fear of being beat up / wanting to be able to beat up others provide a far greater incentive for self-improvement than does making more money than your competitors. While it's nice to be #1 in the market, most businesses are content with simply making a profit. The military OTOH wants to be #1, always.

By Basilisk on 9/3/2012 10:37:50 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh... this overstates the DoD's participation in cutting edge tech'. Yes, in a few areas dARPA pushes the edge, but in many areas it lags -far- behind commercial tech because of its requirements for hardened and "proven" components. Your examples in the first para' are mostly spot-on.

But, once a commercial application gets consumers or industry buying 10's of thousands -- better yet millions -- of units of a new technology, that often leapfrogs military sophistication because of marketplace competition. Commonplace commercial integrated circuits were vastly advanced (more complex/sophisticated/capable) over military ones in the 80's and 90's: yeah, the commercial ones weren't radiation hardened and JDEC certified, but they were also more reliable under most uses.

I'm not knocking dARPA's value to the country -- I worked with the dARPAnet in the 70's which morphed into the porn-palace of today's internet... where would we be without it?! :) But if dARPA funded the RAM advances from magnetic cores to transistors of the early 70's, it was commerce that created the insanely high RAM densities of the 90's.

The second half of the second para' seems idealistic silliness. 'Wish it were accurate, but military/government bureaucracy and intrenched interests combined with political ploys and narcissism squander the best efforts of the developers. I think our advanced aircraft and NASA low-orbit capabilities paint a dreary picture of what government incentives are achieving. Meanwhile SSD's, cellphones, graphics and CPU's keep advancing at an amazing pace... as driven by commercial, not military, incentives.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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